The Baxter

Aw, how cute. I was expecting Michael Showalter, Michael Ian Black, David Wain, Paul Rudd, and the other State-ers to deliver something totally wacky, but maybe my standards are a little too Wet Hot American Summer. In any case, The Baxter was a sweet little movie. Featuring Michael Ian Black wearing women’s undergarments. I love it.

No but seriously. MIB makes pretty much every scene he’s in, and this movie is no exception, though I’d argue that he’s not in enough scenes. Then again, the movie really isn’t about him. It’s about Showalter, playing the titular Baxter, the sad mope that always gets left at the altar/interrupted/cock-blocked by the more risk-taking, daring, assholish fellow in all the movies. Showalter, the writer-director, brilliantly parodies this with a veritable Baxter love triangle, which is actually more like a hexagon when you include all the partners involved. He’s marrying (I can’t remember character names, so actor names will have to suffice) Elizabeth Banks but has real chemistry with Michelle Williams, Banks has real chemistry with Justin Theroux, Williams is attached to Paul Rudd, and if I’m not mistaken, Rudd has real chemistry with Thoreaux’s girlfriend. Shit is complicated and funny. And then there’s MIB, to tie it all together with his hilarious bad posture and ill-fitting ladyclothes. He plays it straight in this movie, by the way.

Of course, I also found out that no movie is truly complete without Peter Dinklage, who in this go-round plays a gay wedding planner. He is so funny in this role that I’d basically like him to get the Emmy for Game of Thrones, having never seen GoT and knowing full well that his GoT character is nothing (maybe even the opposite) of his Baxter character. That is how much this movie made me love Peter Dinklage. He plays gay so subtly well. To quote a coworker of mine, he’s money.

A movie like The Baxter is first and foremost meant to parody a genre, which it does well, but it also has this very sweet, innocent element to it. It’s something about Showalter’s incredibly normal face, sure, but it’s also about the fact that we’ve all met Baxters in real life. They don’t take risks. They’d rather be practical about everything. I consider myself something of a Baxter, and I’m not necessarily proud of it, but I’m damn sure glad to know that there’s such an adorable movie made about our kind. And when you see Baxterism made manifest on the silver screen, it kind of puts things into perspective, you know? Maybe I’ll give this whole risk-taking thing a try. Besides, it looked like Paul Rudd’s character was single at the end of the movie, and that could be good for me.

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